As 2018 is coming to an end, I wanted to sit down and reflect on my year and all that I’ve learned along the way. This year has been full of change and transition, some planned for and some unexpected. To recap our crazy year, we…
I joke that our lives have been in a constant state of transition since we got married, but I think this year takes the cake! (Edit 12/30/20: HAHA! If only you knew what 2020 would hold…) It has definitely been an exciting year that came with lots of growth and many lessons. I could probably spend days writing about everything that I learned and that I’m continuing to learn as each day passes, but I’ll just share some of the ones that stick out to me the most.
This post is a bit of a long one, but stick with me! (If no one reads this, that’s ok. It’s just as much for me as it is for anyone else.)
At the beginning of each year, Daniel and I sit down and write out goals together and for ourselves. For 2018 I had the goals of getting my business up and running, making a certain amount by the end of the year from my business, and executing this grand plan I had to pursue Senior Photography. Being a youth pastor I know lots of seniors and their friends in need of photos, so it seemed like the logical way to go! I had put together a huge plan for how I would pursue them, got a modeling team together, had marketing materials…then I went out for my first senior shoot. It was fun because it was with some of my youth girls, but I realized something I didn’t expect. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I do my family sessions! I tried convincing myself that it was a great market (which it is), but I couldn’t get past the fact that it didn’t get me excited. So instead of wasting time in an area I didn’t enjoy, I decided to re-evaluate and set a new goal to pursue more families for the fall instead of seniors.
There’s nothing wrong with changing the plan! I know many people who stay on the course they’re on simply because it’s what they know and are already doing or planning on doing. Just because something doesn’t work out the way you think it will doesn’t mean you have to stay doing things the same way. If something isn’t working, change it! If something doesn’t fit right, adjust! As a great leader says, “Blessed are the flexible, for they are not easily bent out of shape.”
This one may seem silly, but it is something I’ve struggled with since getting married. Daniel and I found pretty early on that our definitions of a clean home were very different. For him, clean is for everything to be decluttered and put in its place. For me, as long as the clutter is organized it’s all good! It took us a while to get on the same page there.
When we were in the process of selling our house, we had to keep our home “show ready” so that anytime during the day it would be clean and presentable if a family were to want to come by and take a look. Once we got past the grueling task of getting the house show ready for the first time (we gave away SO much stuff!!), maintaining really wasn’t that hard! Every night before settling in for bed we would go through and reset the house. We’d pick up all of the random toys that Maddie brought out, clear out the sink, straighten the pillows on the couch, and put anything away that had been used for the day. In the mornings I’d make lunches and then clear the counters again before heading out.
After only a few days we had this routine down to a tee! It made me realize that if I take a little time each day to reset, our home stays in order for much longer! Hopefully the stressful clutter-filled days are past us. It’s a goal of mine to try to keep up the routine again once we move into our new house. Obviously it will be more difficult adding a newborn to the mix, but hey! A girl can dream, right?
Sometime in the early fall I realized I was spending more time on my phone than I’d like to admit. It was the first thing I was on when I woke up in the morning and the last thing I did before I went to bed. I’d be responding to emails and checking my social media accounts constantly throughout the day. When it hit me how attached to my phone I was, I made some small changes that made a huge difference.
First, I started using the Do Not Disturb function on my iPhone. This allows me to select certain hours that my phone doesn’t get any notifications, texts, or phone calls (except from those I choose). I learned that most people don’t need a response from me after 8pm or before 8am. During those hours, I make the choice to plug in my phone and leave it there. No responding to emails, no messaging people back. I thought it would be stressful to not know who was trying to contact me (especially if it was a potential client), but it was actually liberating! I have yet to lose a client because I waited to respond to them until the morning.
The second thing I did that made a huge difference in my phone usage was I turned off most notifications on my phone. Email, Instagram, Facebook, and any other random apps I have that would light up my phone when it didn’t need to were disabled. I found that every time I got a notification that wasn’t necessary, I would pick up my phone. Instead, I set specific times to check in on these things so it’s on my time and not whenever my phone sends the me the notification. By eliminating the unnecessary distractions, I pick up my phone less! It’s a super simple concept, but made all the difference in the world for me.
This one is short and sweet. Because I’m super forgetful (I blame that on Pregnancy Brain), I needed to find a solution to help me remember important things throughout the day. My Notes app and Reminders app on my phone are by far the most used! If I have a quick thought that I want to revisit later, I jot it down in my Notes app. If I need to remember ANYTHING throughout the day or for the days to come, I create a reminder and set a date and time to receive a notification about it. I’ve set reminders for things I need to remember to take with me in the morning, people I need to follow up with in a week or two, conversations I need to have, the list goes on and on! Seriously, they’ve been lifesavers.
I know my limits. It has taken me a while to get to the place of understanding what the healthy limits in my life are, but I’m pretty confident in knowing them now. I know my limits when it comes to my business and what I can take on and still be a good wife, mom, and youth pastor. Early this fall, I was fully booked with families 2 months out. I knew I couldn’t handle taking on any more families, so I came to the conclusion that I was done booking my fall season. I went a few weeks without booking anyone, but the inquiries kept coming in! It got to the point that I sat down and knew I had to come up with a plan because it pained me to have to turn all of these families down.
The question: how do I multiply my time without adding more to my plate? I thought on this for several days before coming up with a solution…I was going to add some Associate Photographers to my team! I reached out to some local photographers who have a similar style to mine and the same training (thanks Amy & Jordan Demos!), and they agreed to join my team! I booked mini-sessions for them on dates that I already had sessions scheduled and they came in and shot them for me. I still edited and delivered the galleries, but it allowed me to be in two places at once! There were so many families that I would have never had the opportunity to serve had I not thought outside of the box.
I also started outsourcing parts of my business that didn’t have to be done by me. It was difficult at first to spend the money on these things (because I’m definitely a penny-pincher), but I came to the conclusion that the time I saved by outsourcing was worth the cost. This has been a game-changer for me! I have saved countless hours doing things that didn’t need to be done by me, and it has allowed me to focus more time in other areas that only I can do. If you’ve reached your limits and haven’t started outsourcing yet, I highly recommend looking into it!
As Maddie grows, I realize how fast time truly flies. I feel like it was just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital! This year I wanted to be more intentional in slowing down to appreciate the little moments with her. One of the little moments I’ve enjoyed most is watching her explore outside. She has a newfound love for her Mimi’s landscaping rocks and fall leaves. Almost every day she asks to go outside and see the rocks. I could easily tell her no and move on (and some days I do), but I try to say yes and take a few minutes to go out with her.
I love the way she is fascinated by it all! She’ll spend forever picking up the rocks one by one and moving them to the sidewalk, only to move them back one by one. She loves picking up the leaves and walking around with them. She notices the smallest details in the world around her, things I’d never ordinarily see. Those moments when I choose to slow down and be there in the moment with her are the ones I treasure most.
I am guilty of being that person that has a lot of ideas but implements very few of them. This is partly because I just don’t have a lot of time. The other part is because not all of my ideas are great ideas. But when the great idea does come, I try hard to pursue it! This past summer I woke up one day with the idea to create an online community where I could teach moms how to use their DSLR cameras to take better photos of their kids in everyday life. I put some feelers out to see if it would be something that people would be interested in, and it took off from there! Mom-tography101 was born!
My Mom-tography101 community now has thousands of moms from all over the globe who learn and grow together in their journey of photography. Some have even gone on to pursue their own photography businesses! I’ve also been able to create some resources to sell to the community and it’s helped to expand my business in ways I never expected at the beginning of the year. It has been such a blessing for me to be able to play a small roll in these moms’ lives. You never know where a great idea may take you!
This one is the most recent lesson for me. I found that after the dust settled from one transition before hitting the next, I was just living day-to-day getting by. I forgot to take time to dream! I’ve been reading The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and it has reminded me of the importance of dreaming. I do a good job of creating small, achievable goals, but if I don’t have a huge, seemingly impossible aspiration to look towards, what are my everyday goals leading me to?
I’ve been taking time lately to really dream. I’ve come up with some crazy aspirations for 2019 (I’ll write a post for that another time), some of which I may not achieve, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I now have things to work for that I know I can’t accomplish on my own as I am now. It is going to require me to grow tremendously and to trust in God to do what I can’t and take me where I can’t go by myself, but I know the journey will be so worth it! Dreaming gets me excited!
2018 was a great year and I learned so much! I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds!
Get practical business advice (did we mention, *free?*) every week to help you grow a thriving, profitable photography business! From behind-the-scenes editing tips, to posing and marketing - here are some of our most popular posts!
Behind the Lens is our BRAND NEW MEMBERSHIP program geared towards family photographers! Each month our members receive a behind-the-scenes video of me shooting a REAL family session. As a bonus, I also include an EXCLUSIVE MASTERCLASS each month teaching on business topics I don't teach anywhere else! As our MOST AFFORDABLE, value-packed educational resource in our shop, it's a no-brainer for anyone looking to level up their family photography game! Join me every month behind the lens.